Now THAT is what I call a season premiere! Sweet merciful awesome! I was a little (ok, A LOT) bummed that SPN wasn’t coming back until October, but this was very much worth the wait. It looks like Jeremy Carver and Co. have some really great things in store for us this season. But before I get ahead of myself, here are my thoughts (this might get a little long b/c I LOVED the premiere):
1. Holy goodness, Dean Winchester! For the last couple of seasons, Dean has been floundering. He’s been wallowing in depression and despair; drinking so much that I got cirrhosis just watching; and carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders. He lacked focus and purpose. Losing Cas and Bobby just made the situation worse. It seems like Purgatory has cured Dean of what ailed him. The Dean Winchester we saw last night was clear about who he is and why he’s here. He’s found his purpose again. That’s not to say that whatever happened in Purgatory isn’t having a profound effect on him. I wasn’t at all surprised that Dean grew to basically like Purgatory. He’s always had a lot of darkness in him, but he works very hard to keep that in check. When he went to Hell, he gave in to those darker natures and tortured other souls. This situation is kind of the same. He’s in a hostile environment and he’s got to do what he’s got to do to survive. He had to nurture that darkness that makes him such a skilled hunter topside in order to survive down there. Unlike Hell, however, Dean doesn’t feel guilty about killing things in Purgatory. He not only feels justified, he feels good about it. However, I think total reintegration into society is going to be difficult for him. He doesn’t have to continually be on alert the way he was in Purgatory, and it’s going to take some time for him to smooth out the rough edges he developed down there. Just as an aside, Jensen Ackles did a fantastic job of conveying Dean’s PTSD. He was jittery and on edge throughout the whole episode. Ackles is such a master of non-verbal communication.
2. I am very intrigued by the Dean/Benny relationship. On the one hand, I can totally see Dean looking at Benny as a comrade in arms. Dean was all alone in Purgatory and Benny stepped in to have his back. But on the other hand, Dean should know from experience that monsters/demons never change their colors. They are what they are. Aside from that, I kind of liked Benny. I don’t trust him very much, but he does look like he’ll be an interesting addition to the Winchester universe. Could he be Dean’s Ruby? I’m looking forward to watching this storyline unfold. I want to find out how exactly Dean’s relationship with Benny developed and how it’s going to affect his relationship with Sam. Speaking of Sam…
3. There are a lot of folks who are pretty upset with how Sam was characterized in this episode. But I think Sam made a reasonable choice that was completely in character for him. Sam has always wanted a normal life. I think he wanted it even more than Dean because he (Sam) never had it. Back in Season 5, Sam kind of reluctantly accepted the fact that he was never going to have normal, but at least he still had his family. At the end of S7, Sam had absolutely no one. Dean and Cas disappeared. Bobby was dead. Crowley took Kevin. Ellen and Jo are dead. Rufus is dead. He had absolutely no one and nothing. One of the things S7 made abundantly clear is that Dean kept going for Sam, and Sam kept going for Dean. Dean was gone. Why would Sam keep going? For all he knew, Dean and Cas died when Dick exploded. If they were in Heaven, was he supposed to pull them back? Where was he to start? Who was he to call? How was he to know that non-monsters could even end up in Purgatory? Was he supposed to just drive himself insane (again) grasping at straws? Sam was alone, lost, scared, and filled with grief. If he had kept hunting in that state, he would not have lasted very long. Hitting that dog and finding someone to help him find his center again saved Sam. I don’t think he would’ve survived otherwise. And after all the sacrifices he’s made and the loss that he’s endured, I don’t begrudge him some happiness.
4. In addition to a different Dean and Sam, we also got a different Crowley. He was much more cold than we’ve seen him in seasons past. He was so nonchalant about snapping Kevin’s girlfriend’s neck. Furthermore, Crowley’s got a lot at stake here. It’s very personal. Not only are Kevin and the Winchesters trying to wipe out all demons from the Earth; Kevin bested Crowley. Crowley cannot let that go unanswered. Since the stakes are so high for him this season, I have a feeling we’re going to see a much darker, more sinister Crowley than we’ve seen in seasons past.
5. The only thing that kind of didn’t sit exactly right was Amelia. I didn’t exactly get a warm fuzzy for her. After Sam hit the dog, he brought it to the vet and he was obviously distressed. Admittedly, his reaction wasn’t exactly in proportion to the situation, but he was going through a lot at the time. I understand Amelia not wanting him yelling at her nurse, but I didn’t like the way she spoke to Sam at all. She came off as snarky and abrasive. If she were trying to challenge him a bit, she did a pretty poor job of it. I would like to explore Sam’s relationship with Amelia, and find out why he left the way he did. But I absolutely do not want their relationship to be front and center of the season. Nor do I want Amelia to be poorly written. I’ll give her a few episodes before I pass final judgment, but as of right now, things aren’t looking too good in that department.
That being said, I loved pretty much everything about this episode. It was a fantastic season opener. It set up some interesting character relationships and a few storylines that can be very meaty over the course of the season. It also set up a season long goal, and I’ve found SPN works best when they have one goal for the season. I’ve always liked Jeremy Carver’s episodes because he has a very firm grasp on Sam and Dean’s voices, and he does a great job of combining drama and humor. For all of the emotionally heavy parts, we got some pretty good chuckles (you’re going to your safety school. ha!) and a few awwws (yes, I said awww when Sam ordered Dean a burger). Some folks are concerned that if they find the tablet and banish demons forever it will be the end of the series. I don’t think that’s the case at all because, c’mon. When has anything ever gone exactly according to plan for these guys?